Like A Zipper, People!

This may seem silly, but one of my favorite moments in life is when I’m driving in traffic and there are two lanes that need to merge, and miracle of miracles, everyone involved decides to behave like civilized human beings and simply merge, like a zipper, into one lane of smooth flowing traffic. Admit it, you’ve felt just a little pride in how well behaved you and your fellow man can be whenever this has happened to you.

This zipper-like merging of things can be likened to integrated marketing, and it can be just as satisfying. The reality is that integration has already proved itself as a successful tactic. Integrating direct mail with traditional media worked wonders for Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. More recently, integrating email with direct mail has been working well for marketers. I believe the trend will continue with social media and email as well.

The initial social media and email integration tactics have already been well covered, and I won’t bore you with a rehashing here. If you want to read about it, check out the following articles:

The last article from Marketing Profs includes a set of really great graphs that show how surveyed marketers have already and plan to integrate social media and email. I’ve copied in the graphs here.



What I find interesting is that most tactics tend to focus on the inclusion of opportunities to friend/follow or share in the email content. Neither of these are particularly social with regards to the relationship between the company and the person. They are more geared toward asking the person to help the company, which is somewhat backwards.

I’d like to propose two alternative ways to integrate social media and email.


#1 Start with social media and take it to email

One of the key things we’ve learned through the maturation of social media is that people trust content created by other people more than they trust content created by the company. Another thing we’ve learned from the rise of YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter is that people like to create content. Companies should take advantage of these facets of human nature to optimize their email content.

What does that mean? Let your social media community create your email content.

While the company has a message that they must get out, what if the company asked the people to write the copy, and then the company took the best versions and used them. Imagine, you could ask for enough information about the person to be able to tie them to existing segments of your market, or you could create segments from this information, and then you could use the best user-generated version of your message, the one that was written in the native tongue and with a real understanding of a “day in the life” of the intended audience, for your email copy.

You would have to ask the right questions of the person up front, making sure to ask for both email and social media account information and you would have to recognize the authors in the copy.

User-generated content is not a new concept, but I’ve yet to see a company really take it to email in a sustained way. The benefits seems very tangible to me:

  • Multiple versions of content written with a true understanding of the target
  • Free content for later use
  • More customer information gathered with the incentive of personal recognition
  • Greater trust in the message and therefore higher response


#2 Seed and Sow

My theory is that you can boost email open rates by seeding the audience with social media messages announcing the impending email and sowing the audience with social media reminders to open the email.

I’ve seen something like this work before for the Humane Society of the US, using text messages instead of social media messages.

Sure, not everyone who is going to receive the email is also going to be part of your social media community, but I think there are two good things that could happen. First, you would boost the open rate among the segment of your email file that was also a social media fan. Second, in conjunction with the other integration points like inclusion of social sharing tools inside the email itself and the bias of the people opening the email towards using social networks, you would boost the sharing of the email content into the social networks.

To make this work well, you would need strong integration between your email and social media management systems to schedule the email and social media messages accordingly and to measure the impact of the tactics. Being able to view the scheduled content on one calendar and to see the data on one dashboard would be ideal.


I don’t think anyone can argue that integration of marketing channels into a coordinated campaign is undesirable and email management systems are relatively mature and established. The social media management systems are newer, but already proving valuable to large corporations. Of course, Spredfast is at the top of the heap, and we’re ready to be the kind of partner to make the vision presented above a reality.

Social Media Initiative managed by Spredfast

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